Cerro Pelado Fire Tuesday (May 10) Update: Cerro Pelado fire grew slowly overnight despite high winds, but fire officials remain vigilant, ask residents to do the same

May 10, 2022

A news release from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office and the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office

The Cerro Pelado fire burning in the Jemez Mountains grew from 40,958 acres yesterday to 42,491 acres today, which is the slowest daily growth in recent days, despite high winds and dry conditions. However, continued high winds and low humidity are forecasted for the next two days, so firefighting crews remain on high alert and ask residents to do the same.

More than 871 personnel are working the fire. Today, firefighting operations are focused on National Forest Road 287, where crews are taking actions to slow the fire’s spread and keep it from entering Frijoles Canyon.

No evacuation orders in Los Alamos County have been issued. The incident command team, the NNSA, Los Alamos County, the Laboratory and other responding agencies are working closely to take all factors into account when making decisions about whether to put the community on alert. They are considering both where, geographically, the fire is burning, and the conditions of the fire as guidelines. A spot fire is burning in Alamo Canyon, but fire officials have determined that it does not present a significant concern at this time.

Yesterday, the N.M. 4 closure at the intersection of West Jemez Road was extended to mile marker 61 on N.M. 4 to allow for the safety of personnel conducting wildfire mitigation activities. Residents could see more fire-response personnel in the County, but this is not a cause for alarm. These are proactive measures for planning and to keep an eye out for spot fires.

County and Lab in ‘set’ phase

As a precautionary measure only, the Laboratory and the County on Sunday announced the move to the “set” phase of “ready, set, go,” which began for the townsite and White Rock May 9. “Set” means that conditions could change rapidly, and it is time to create a plan and prepare in case of an evacuation order. Frequently asked questions related to preparation are available. The County has also posted FAQs on its webpage.

“Set” means Los Alamos-area residents should create an evacuation plan, a “go bag,” and a communication plan that includes area evacuation and contact information, and be sure to pay close attention to news and information about the fire.

It is also important to remember that these measures are precautionary and designed to give residents plenty of time to evacuate. The “Go” stage will be situational, but it aims to give everyone a 24-hour window to evacuate if needed.

IF the County moves to the “go” phase, officials anticipate that it would require only residents from the townsite to evacuate. This would initially include all neighborhoods in Los Alamos County except for White Rock. At this point, the White Rock area does not appear that it would be in the path of the fire and would remain in the “set” phase; however, White Rock residents should still be prepared if circumstances change.

Watch yesterday’s community meeting; additional resources available